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Month: September 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Book Review: Operation Owl by Tara Quan #OOTour and $25 Gift Card Giveaway

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In Operation Owl, we revisit the world of the Grimm’s fairy tale, “The Owl.” The gist of the story is that there is an owl in a barn, the owl terrifies the property owner, and so rather than try to get the owl out of the barn, the townsfolk burn the barn down to rid it of this “terrible beast.” Those who enjoy romance novels will probably really enjoy this novel. It definitely had its humorous parts. In places, I found there to be a bit too much giggling and romance-like introspection – but overall, it was a fun read.

Title: Operation Owl

Author: Tara Quan

Publication Date: July 15, 2014

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Humor



Operation OwlFive years ago, Maya Jain kissed her best friend only to have him run out of her dorm room and leave the state. When he shows up in Washington, D.C., a wanted fugitive sought after by every branch of the US government, she can’t bring herself to ignore his plight. As their physical relationship picks up where it left off, she decides it’s time to make him see her as more than the bespectacled, bookish girl he once called “Owl.”

After being accused of espionage and treason, Zack Strong needs a forensic accountant to help clear his name. Not knowing who he can trust, this white-hat hacker has no choice but to ask his former best friend and math tutor for help. Together they unravel a cyber conspiracy at the Barn, an NSA facility tasked to intercept electronic communications. But as they traverse the nation’s capital to avoid capture, Maya insists on letting their simmering sexual tension take its natural course. Even though he’s never been able to shake the memory of their one kiss, he refuses to let her give up her life for a man with no future.



Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords | AllRomance | Decadent Publishing



Author Bio

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at

Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |  Google+ | Amazon


Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this tour. A $25 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.

One winner. Open Internationally. Ends 10/6. Void where prohibited.

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Book Review: Black Moon by Becca C. Smith and F.M. Sherrill #MoonTour

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In F.M. Sherrill and Becca C. Smith’s (Atlas) collaborative effort, Black Moon, we meet the bored Shea Harper, a college student stuck at ASU in Phoenix. I say stuck, because it’s clear from the outset that she is miserable there – she wanted to go to UCLA, but couldn’t find funding. Like me, she cannot stand the dry, suffocating heat (my little college town in California isn’t a desert, but it certainly gets hot here, and the town just kind of sucks you in like a vacuum). I was immediately able to relate to her situation.

While I found Shea relatable, I sometimes found the prose…a bit purple. While this did bother me a fair bit, it wasn’t enough to stop me from continuing to read to see what happened to Shea and the other characters. Immediately after meeting Shea, we meet Aiden, her BFF. I think I may be a little old for the term “BFF”, since it makes me cringe a bit to use it here – but I know that 20-somethings won’t be at all bothered by its use.  The language use throughout the novel makes me feel as though it is definitely aimed toward young adult readers and 20-somethings – especially given the college setting.

In all, it was an enjoyable read. We meet Lucian who shakes things up quite a bit for bored Shea. She learns that she has special powers, that there are vampires in the world, and that perhaps, yes, there was some sort of divine intervention keeping her chained to Phoenix. The novel moves quickly, and I was able to get through it in an afternoon. It’s a great escape from chores and the boring things of every day life. One of the best things about this book involves the author’s ability to blend their collaborative effort together seamlessly.


Black Moon CoverTitle: Black Moon

Authors: Becca C. Smith and F.M. Sherrill

Publication Date: July 7, 2014

Genre: Paranormal Romance



Shea Harper is forced to stay in boring, hot and dry Phoenix, Arizona for college. But once she meets the enigmatic yet positively egocentric Lucian, Shea’s life changes forever.

She finds out that she comes from a long line of descendants called Vessels. In her soul is the key to destroying an ancient prison protecting the world from darkness itself: Lucian’s father.

Up until now, Lucian has captured every descendant except Shea. With her powers awakening, all vampires want to drag her down to the pit. But Lucian is territorial. She’s the first female Vessel… and he’s convinced she belongs to him.

Saucy and tauntingly surprising, Black Moon captures the struggle between burning desire or denying the heart. This is a love story that will drain you dry.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Authors Bios

Becca SmithBecca C. Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life. In 2010 Becca published her first novel, Riser followed by the sequel, Reaper, in 2011, and the finale, Ripper in 2013. In 2012 Becca wrote the children’s novel Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure. She is also the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted. Most recently Becca released Atlas, the first book in a new urban fantasy series. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Stephan and their two cats Jack and Duke.

Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads



FM SherrillF.M. Sherrill: recent citizen of earth. Plans on ruling the planet once she gets over the common cold. Or, F.M. Sherrill: time traveler. Decided to alter the space-time continuum by writing a novel, thus changing history slightly, which will eventually lead to the rise of a new human species.

But here it is. F.M. Sherrill is a novelist, A.K.A. an avid bullshitter; that’s why she lives in L.A.. She’s been writing for as long as her ancient mind can remember, devouring tales like an anemic vampire roaming the streets in hot pink heels, always thirsty for more. When she’s not writing, she’s making steampunk weapons, sewing giant plant-eater Mario plushes, making costumes for some film bloke or cosplayer, and sculpting/casting movie prop replicas while gardening in her urban apartment. Her favorite tools? A soldering iron, a blowtorch, a band saw, a sonic screwdriver, a replicator and an active imagination.


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Book Review: Atlas by Becca C. Smith #AtlasTour

Hey guys, sorry this one is up a little late and that I haven’t been posting much this week. I wound up coming down with the fall crud that’s going around, and I don’t have the energy to do much other than resting – BUT there are good posts coming, I promise! Without further ado, here’s the review of Becca C. Smith’s Atlas.

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Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to carry the whole world on your shoulders? Me neither, but the Titan, Atlas, has no choice. Becca C. Smith’s latest novel, Atlas weaves together Greek Mythology with a Special Ops/Navy Seals soldier, Kala Hicks. She has to deal with a slew of demons, angels, and gods as well as those mortals who wish to mess with her. The pace is quick, and it’s a fast read for anyone who wants to sit down with it for a while. From a very sassy Atlas to Kala’s kick-in-the butt attitude, the characters are amusing – like in a Will Smith movie.

Atlas CoverTitle: Atlas

Author: Becca C. Smith

Publication Date: November 11, 2013

Genre: Paranormal Action



Every four days. Commit one act of atrocity. Keep the balance or the planet dies.

At least, that’s what Special Ops soldier Kala Hicks is told by the Titan god, Atlas, after blacking out when she shoots the President of the United States. Even though killing the president had been sanctioned by the government, Kala wonders if the whole ordeal had fried her brain cells.

Kala is thrown into a world of demons, angels, and gods, each with their own agenda of whether or not they want her to live or die. She faces off against creatures of legend, all trying to sway her, use her, or kill her. There’s the annoyingly attractive demon who is determined to get into her pants as well as make her fail and plunge the world into chaos. Then there’s the stunningly beautiful Grigorian angel who is convinced he’s Kala’s soul mate, but to Kala he’s a supernatural stalker. Not to mention her own boyfriend – who may be the key to ending it all.

Pitted against the forces of good and evil, Kala must choose whether to save the world by doing the unthinkable, or sit back and let it burn.

Four days later, she’ll have to do it again.


Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Becca SmithAuthor Bio

Becca C. Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life. In 2010 Becca published her first novel, Riser followed by the sequel, Reaper, in 2011, and the finale, Ripper in 2013. In 2012 Becca wrote the children’s novel Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure. She is also the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted. Most recently Becca released Atlas, the first book in a new urban fantasy series. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Stephan and their two cats Jack and Duke.


Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Book Review: Castle Blues Quake & Giveaway

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For your average middle schooler, 5th-8th grade, I think this would be a fun book. It’s quick-paced, it’s quirky, and there’s a lot of snark and humor. Overall, it’s a fun, lighthearted book that reads like jazz or blues music. I’d almost suggest listening to Miles Davis or John Coltrane or Dizzy Gillespie while reading this one. I like that the main character is an adventuresome girl who’s the driving force behind saving her ghost-friend.  In all, a great and quick read for the “tween” and early teen set.

Title: The Castle Blues Quake

Series: The Ghost Whisperer #1

Author: Linda Covella

Publication Date: July 20, 2014

Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal



12-year-old Pepper Connelly leaves her best friend, Chrissie, behind when her family moves from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. Pepper discovers a boy, Corey, hiding in her backyard shed. Unknown to Pepper, Corey is a ghost trying to contact his grandfather, Boppie, before he crosses over. He tells Pepper he must locate Boppie before Social Services finds him. Pepper agrees to help.

While Pepper’s communication with Chrissie dwindles, her friendship with Corey grows. She tells Corey about her passion for writing songs, and throughout the story, she composes a song about Corey. Corey teaches Pepper to play the harmonica. Soon, she’s torn between finding Boppie and knowing when she does, Corey will certainly go back on the road with his traveling-musician grandfather.

Other characters help her on her quest: new classmate Ally Cressman, who dresses in an odd-ball, non-mall style; Sawtooth Sam, the mysterious saw-playing street musician; and Madame Mchumba, who performs her psychic readings at the Boardwalk amusement park. Earthquakes, haunted house rides, poltergeists, and crystal ball readings propel Pepper toward the shocking conclusion of her search.



Buy Links

Amazon  |  Goodreads




Author Bio

Linda Covella’s varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.

A writer for over 30 years, her first publication was a restaurant review column, and as a freelance writer, she continued to publish numerous articles in a variety of publications. But when she published articles for children’s magazines (“Games and Toys in Ancient Rome” and “Traveling the Tokaido in 17th Century Japan,” in Learning Through History magazine, and “Barry’s Very Grown Up Day” in Zootles magazine), she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She wants to share with kids and teens her love of books:  the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.

The Castle Blues Quake, a middle grade paranormal, and Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults, are her first novels.

She’s a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

No matter what new paths she may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.


Social Media Links

Website  | Amazon |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Pinterest | Google Plus




Giveaway: There is a giveaway: a $15 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value –OR– a swag pack from the author.

There will be two winners. Open Internationally. Ends 9/26. Void where prohibited.
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Creating a Wardrobe: The Skirts Plan

I’ll be kicking off my wardrobe-making with skirts. (I also plan to participate in the Fall Essentials Sew Along. I’ll share my notes on that in a couple days. I have some thinking to do.) I want to create a wardrobe of skirts that will be classic & work with a variety of tops. Skirts are also much easier to sew, giving me lots of practice building my sewing skills. Without further ado, here are the skirt patterns I will work on first. I still need to match them with fabrics.

McCall’s 6757 – the straight skirt

For this one, I plan on sticking with neutrals. I like the khaki color. I’m thinking an olive green might be nice for this skirt as well. I also like the idea of it in black. I’ll just start with the khaki though, and see where that leads me. I don’t have the fabric for this one yet.

Simplicity 2474 – View B, Curvy (so no pocket plackets)

I actually have a fabric in mind in my stash for this one. It’s a black and white plaid with blue and red threads running through it.

McCall’s 5523 View A


I love the little flirty flair at the back of this skirt. I’ll probably make more in this pattern, but for now, I have a grey lightweight wool fabric that I’ll use with it:

Vogue 8750 – View A Pencil Skirt


I love the seams on this one. I’m going to do it in a black sueded cotton, but I think that I may also have to make it in a lightweight dark blue demim fabric I have hanging around.

Vogue 8750 – View B Gored Skirt


I’m in love with the shape of this skirt.  I plan on doing this one in a fabric that is olive green with little white flowers.

Butterick 6059 – View A


This is a pattern I can see using a lot. For now, I’ll use a light blue linen to make view A.

Butterick 4686 – View A – Pleated skirt


This pattern is great, and I look forward to making it. I don’t have a fabric for it yet. I have a few fabrics in mind; I may find something awesome on Spoonflower. I’ll probably do something serious and then something fun, like one of the Mario or Tetris fabrics over there.

Butterick 5756 – Denim skirt – View A


This will be fun. I like the idea of wearing this with a well-tailored button down and with a cute camisole and cardigan set. I don’t have the fabric for this guy yet, but I’ll probably go a bit darker with denim than the one in this picture.

Butterick 6706 View C asymetrical pleated skirt 


I love this. Like, seriously. I just have to find the right fabric for it. I have some ideas, but I haven’t settled on anything just yet.

Butterick 5756 View D – Maxi Skirt


This skirt is fun, and it looks super-comfortable. I’m not quite sure what fabric I’ll use for it yet; I don’t have anything in my stash that will work or that has enough yardage.

McCall’s 6966 View A – Jersey skirt


This will be a great pattern, there are lots of good things in here. I’ll start with this one.  I have some great red fabric with little white flowers that will make an excellent skirt here.

Butterick 3134


This will make a nice evening skirt for date night 🙂 It calls for crepe de chine, tissue faille, or light weight crepe. I have a really nice green fabric I found while thrifting in mind for it. I haven’t measured it yet, but if there’s enough, that’s what I’ll use.

Simplicity 5259 View F – Sexy  Pencil skirt

In case you’re confused, it’s the one the gal is wearing. I have an  idea that once I fiddle iwth this pattern that it will become a favorite. For now, It’s one of a couple of patterns I want to use with a black silky fabric that has a red dragon print on it.

McCall’s 6654 – View C – Knit skirt


This pattern already has a lot of applications in my mind. I’ve got a really cool red novelty knit with sequins that will look stellar with this cut. I look forward to wearing it at Christmas.

Simplicity 9825 – View B/C

So for this skirt, I want to do something in leather, and between the middle and short lengths. I’ll do a deep brown soft leather, and I’m thinking about doing a denim as well.

Simplicity 1760 – View E – Suede pencil skirt

I have an awesome purple ultrasuede I want to use with this pattern.

So those are my plans. Now it’s time to make a list of the notions I need and start with the patterns for fabrics I already have. I have quite the project cut out for me!

Wine Selections by the Owner

English: A photograph of a bottle of an Israel...

:  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of the wines tasted at this time were selected by one of the owners of Creekside Cellars.  While the wine store is no longer in business, the wines reviewed here are still available at a variety of places.  The tasting occurred on March 30, 2013.

Scharffenburger Brute Rose Sparkling Anderson Valley, Mendocino County ($25) This sparkling wine received a star and exclamation point from Wining Husband and I. It was citrus-y, light and smooth. It was a bit sweet, but not overly sweet. We enjoyed it pretty well.

Duckhorn 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($29) We gave a  star to this wine. It was a pretty good Sauvignon Blanc. It was smoky, and had lots of citrus to it. It was very dry. It would pair well with a strawberry avocado salad or one of the pear and walnut salads that are out there.

Conundrum 2011 White Blend, California ($24) We gave this wine a star, though when you read that we thought the nose had aromas of Tidy Cat mixed with Cascade, you may wonder why. On the tasting, it was round. It was fresh, sweet, and citrus-y, and decently good.

Levendi 2009 “Red Hen” Chardonnay Napa Valley ($29) We also liked this wine pretty well, giving it a star. It was sweet and buttery with a hint of spice. It was your basic Chardonnay with a vanilla finish.

Waterbrook 2010 Sangiovese Rosé Columbia Valley ($13) Yeah, we didn’t like this one. I’m not going to share the notes that we wrote down. Suffice it to say, neither Wining Husband nor I were fans.

Guarachi 2010 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($60) Yeah, we didn’t like this one either. It received 93 points from Wine Spectator. Either our palates were off and we were missing something or it was just one of those wines that doesn’t mix well with our chemistries. Our notes say “rubber mallet & sweat sock, smells like a foot.” I think that about sums that one up. (As a full disclaimer, I’m not entirely sure this effect wasn’t brought on by the wine that immediately preceded it in the tasting).

Shannon Ridge 2008 Wrangler Red Lake County ($15) We weren’t much fans of this one either. We gave it a “no.” It had a wet dog quality on the nose. On the taste it was light fruit & rubber with a bit of cigar. It was okay, but it just didn’t work for us.

Clos de L’Oratoire 2010 Chateauneuf~du~Pape France ($45) We enjoyed this wine, giving it a star. It was tobacco and dry spice with a medium body. It was a versatile wine, and would pair very nicely with Wining Husband’s recipe for Chicken Valencia.

William Harrison 2007 Cabernet Franc Rutherford, Napa Valley ($44) This wine was a winner. We gave it a star and one and a half exclamation points. It was sweet and buttery with a cigar box and tobacco finish. It was rather lovely.

Murphy Goode 2000 “Brenda Block” Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, Sonoma ($63) This wine was the winner of the lot. We gave it a star and two exclamation points. It was sweet, with butter and spice goodness. It behaves and tastes like a 2-3 year old wine instead of a 13 year old wine. It didn’t need a pairing; it was great on its own.

Have you tried any of these wines? What were your thoughts on them?


Book Review: The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack #DSATour



This book has a lot of charm. When you want to be whisked away, it’s a great book for that. Meet Kailani, a 9-year old girl who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and Sky. She wants to make everything right again after a war where the world divided. She travels across the ocean, fleeing the Blessed Lands separating the Blessed Lands and the Republic, an act that is forbidden  by the elders. When she crashes on a rock in the Republic, Helena and Jason find her. In an effort to save her, these two childhood friends find themselves brought back together after life took them down two separate paths.

Kailani changes everyone she meets (don’t we all?), but it is the depth of characters in David Litwack’s book that will keep readers turning the pages. When you like books that raise questions (and more than they answer) you’ll enjoy this book. I found the way he takes faith and reason, divides them completely, and asks “What if you had to live one path or the other.” I have my own answer to that question, but it’s something that came up while reading this page-turning novel.

Daughter Sea SkyTitle: Daughter of the Sea and the Sky

Author: David Litwack

Publication Date: May 2014

Genre: Speculative Fiction


After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light-two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.

These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.

But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | iBooks | Kobo

Author Bio

Dave PortraitThe urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned. His novels include: There Comes a Prophet, Along the Watchtower, and the newly released The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

 Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Newsletter

*** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ***


Gold Rush Deluge Excerpt, #GRDBlast, and $25 B&N/Amazon Giveaway


Too late she realizes Kersey has a dark and murderous past


Publication Date: August 23, 2014
Genre: Historical Romance

When Lucinda Martin York and George Arnold leave Diggers Flat during a rainstorm, the Sacramento and American rivers crest, causing a deluge of epic proportions that engulfs the town of Sacramento. While Lucinda uses her medical skills to help save the citizens, George proposes a plan to stop the floodwaters and save the town.

Lucinda holds fast to her dream of becoming a doctor and apprentices to Dr. Mitchell Kersey. She falls under his spell, and too late she realizes Kersey has a dark and murderous past that has followed him to California. The danger she finds herself enmeshed in may end her dreams before they have even begun.

Based on historical events of 1850 Sacramento, Gold Rush Deluge is riveting and romantic.


October 1848, New York

Dr. Mitchell Kersey brushed a piece of dead grass off his wool coat sleeve as he watched the two oilcloth-wrapped bundles sink under the still surface of the millpond. He tossed the key to his house into its murky depths. A sigh of relief escaped his lips. Soon, the cold winter temperatures would ice over the millpond and bury it in deep snow, snow that would bury his cold secret. He felt a sense of satisfaction at a clean job well done, with a minimum of blood, mess, and fuss. However, his satisfaction was tinged with disappointment that he would never be able to share this particular accomplishment with anyone.

Nonetheless, he hummed an energetic tune, the “Radetzky Marsch” by Johann Strauss, as he walked to the crossroad where he would catch a hansom cab to New York City. It was marching music, a triumphant little tune, in direct correlation to his demeanor. He stepped sprightly, his head held high and his shoulders back, with the lightness that comes with the release of a heavy burden. The burden being his wife, holding him to this place where he had no future. He wanted to move to Alta California where he could make a name for himself instead of being just another doctor. But she had been afraid to leave her family. Kersey could not tolerate fear. He told her if she wouldn’t come with him, she and the baby could stay here.

And so it was.

In the morning, Kersey would embark on the newly commissioned steamship SS California bound for San Francisco. The SS California would take Kersey to Rio de Janeiro, through the Straits of Magellan, docking in Valparaiso and Panama to pick up more passengers before heading to the territory of Alta California. In October of 1848, Kersey had not yet heard of the California gold rush and the ensuing feverish migration to the Sierras. His reason for making an escape to the western edge of the continent was purely selfish. Once he put his life in Amherst behind him, he would begin a new life. A life unencumbered, a life in which he had only to look out for himself. A life in which his past did not matter, only the future he planned to create.



Suzanne Lilly is a teacher and a writer who occasionally takes time off to zipline in Alaska, teach in China, and traipse around Rome. She writes sweet stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending.

Sign up for her email newsletter to find out about upcoming books before anyone else. You’ll also get exclusive bonus materials and contests just for subscribers. One subscriber is chosen to win a $25 gift card each time the newsletter comes out.

New Clairvaux 2013 Primativo Release Tasting

Release tasting at New Clairvaux Vineyards in Vina, CA

Release tasting at New Clairvaux Vineyards in Vina, CA

Yesterday, we headed over to the tasting room at New Clairvaux Vineyards to check out their new wine releases. We hadn’t been for a while thanks to me being pregnant with baby girl, and we wwere excited to see what they had going on. We tasted six wines while there, including the new 2013 Primativo release, and we wandered around a bit and took a look at the reconstruction of an 800 year old chapter house from Ovila, Spain. 

The first wine we tasted was the 2013 Aimée Pinot Grigio ($22). On the nose, this wine was very green. On taste, the wine had a very distinct hay taste to it, followed by pear and apple on the finish. It was hot on the back end – and had some spice to it. It was a fine wine, but in my opinion, would benefit from some time more time in the cellar for the flavors to become more balanced.

The 2013 Syrah Rosé ($14) was next. This wine was decently good. It was dry, and reminded me of strawberry lemonade – but without any sense of sweet to that. It was smokey, as if the berries had been roasted, and had a bacon fat quality and taste to it.

Our favorite of the bunch was the 2012 St. James Tempranillo ($17). This wine had a heavy nose. Like the Syrah Rosé, the wine had a bacon fat smokey taste to it, notes of deep red fruits, paprika and cayenne pepper, and red spice. It was not overly tannic or overly alcoholed. It was chewy on the finish.

The 2012 St. James Syrah ($18), in my opinion, should have come prior to the Tempranillo in the tasting. It was just plain overshadowed by this earlier wine. This one smelled of fruit and berries on the nose. Upon tasting, it had a dry heat, and like the wine befroe it was chewy. It had dry red berries, paprika, pepper, and bell peppers. It was a tangy wine – almost like a sour patch kid without the sugar. I’m wondering if my reaction to this one was due to having had the Tempranillo just before it. I’ve liked this line in the past.

The 2012 Pour Souls Barbera ($17) was a rough Barbera, but would accompany pizza or a general pasta dinner nicely. It was light and fruity on the nose, yet big buff & robust on the taste. 

The final wine of the tasting, the one that New Clairvaux was celebrating, the 2013 Napa Valley Aimée Primativo ($27) had potential. I felt it was too young to be released as the flavors were out of control. It was burnt bacon and sweet prunes, buttery, and very oak. It had a humid nose, like wet grass or mud, on the taste, it was all oak and smoke. In fact, the oak kind of got in the way of the wine. I think this will be a very good wine once it has aged longer in the bottle. 

After the tasting, we wandered around and looked at the reconstruction project. I took a bunch of pictures. I figured I would go ahead and post them here for you to enjoy. It’s gorgeous, and my images don’t do it justice.

Out of the Park Baseball 15 Game Review and Rafflecopter Giveaway

Wining Husband, Tiger Boy, and I are all huge baseball fans. It’s kind of fun in our household because there are two different teams we root for. My husband is a huge Seattle Mariners fan, and Tiger boy and I cheer for the Oakland Athletics. It can get kind of loud in our house when the two teams play one another, but we generally have a game going on the television in the evenings and on weekends, regardless of whether one of our teams is playing.

When I was asked by Brad Cook of Out of the Park Developments if I might have any interest in testing the game for SoDo Mojo (a blog for the Mariners I was editor of for some time from 2012-2013), I responded with an astounding “Yes, but I no longer write for that blog.” He sent me the activation codes, and I gave it a shot. The game is a baseball simulation. On the website, it has been described the following way:

“Out of the Park Baseball (“OOTP”) is the most sophisticated and best-selling baseball simulation game on the planet. Since its inception, OOTP has won numerous awards, including multiple “Sports Game of the Year” awards, en route to becoming the most immersive, realistic, and customizable baseball experience a fan can ask for!”


Out of The Park has a dashboard so you can control all of your team's details.

Out of The Park has a dashboard so you can control all of your team’s details.

I have to say that the game is impressive, and there are many customizable features – so many that even after a month, I’m still learning about things I can tweak and customize to draw out the reality of the game.

Before I settled in to play for the first time, I cracked open a bottle of Ancient Peaks 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and grabbed myself a snack plate with cheddar, almonds, manzanilla olives, and salami.  I started things up. I hit my first pitfall.

You see, none of the “managers” you could select were female. I wound up uploading my own picture, and getting the settings right. You can customize pretty much everything about your manager character. You can also select how much or how little control you would like to have over each of the different game features.

I uploaded my ownhoto for the manager screen

I uploaded my own photo for the manager screen

You get to choose your team; naturally, I chose the Oakland team. There were so many features of this game, that even after testing it for a month, I’m finding things I didn’t realize existed! I’m wondering if a tutorial mode might be a good idea. After all, many of my favorite simulation games begin with that. I remember Sim Farm and Sim Life (how are those for throwbacks to the 1990s?) had some really great tutorial modes that walked you through how to use all the different features. That was really helpful.

The game mode is fun. You can choose what you want your pitcher and fielders to do, and you can choose what you want your guys to do when they’re at bat. If it becomes too much, you can have the game finish it for you. Tiger Boy got a big kick out of the option to hit a batter. In fact, as you might expect from a 16 year old, he wanted me to choose that as my pitching option every time. Why? I don’t know…

Play your team's games out

Play your team’s games out

In all, the game has a lot of great features. You can read about the “news” around the baseball league, trade players, set your ticket prices and work on your team’s budget, and much, much, much more.

Read the major league news

Read the major league news

I strongly recommend this game to anyone who is a baseball fan. You can purchase the game for $39.99… or you can try to win an unlock code here!

I have two licenses of the game to give away to a lucky winner. I bet you know someone who would love to play it. The giveaway is open to international readers, and it runs from 9/7/2014 until 9/15/2014. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

I received a copy of the game for review, and no further compensation; all opinions are my own.

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